Atheism, theism, and religious belief

There's been a lot of debate in the media, and even here on Catallarchy/DR, about religion lately. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens, among others, are on the offensive. Plenty of other people are counter-attacking. And plenty of people in the middle don't feel strongly one way or another, but get turned off by atheist ferocity and religious dogmatism.

One distinction that I think is important but unfortunately gets blurred in this debate is that theism and religious belief are not the same thing. It's possible to believe in a being capable of doing anything that is metaphysically possible and of knowing all things that are true without buying into the specific historical and ideological claims of any one religion.

I think the case against specific religions—pick one, any one—is pretty strong. Strong enough, in fact, that I'm astonished that people have religious belief at all. This is the idea that really makes me see red. (I might set aside my libertarianism for long enough to legally force everyone in the world to read The Bible Unearthed. Maybe.) I just can't stress my opposition to religion enough.

However, the question of the Man Upstairs isn't necessarily so clearly resolved from the facts. I have some ideas about this, but I'm not officially moving out of the agnostic camp yet.

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Belief in God combined with rejection of specific religions sounds like Deism.

Exactly like deism.

Exactly like deism.

Deism: What's the Point?

Certainly, the existence of a Creator is a possibility. It can't be proven or disproven. Quite a stretch, though, to go from positing the existence of a Prime Mover to claiming that this Being wants us to love one another or love It, or to glean any actionable intelligence whatsoever from this particular theory of creation. Deism is in no way equivalent to organized religions, with their prescriptions for everyday life and their detailed mythologies about ancestors and prophets.

God the failed hypothesis

"Certainly, the existence of a Creator is a possibility. It can't be proven or disproven."

Actually, nothing can be proven or disproven about the real world in the logical sense of having a fully justified base of axioms from which to derive reality. One can however prove things in the sense of "testing them", an alternate meaning of the word, and the one that scientists use. In that sense certain conceptions of God can be disproved. In fact, a scientist, Victor J. Stenger, has written a book on this, "God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist".

Your conception of God needs to be watered down alot from the biblical or qur'anic version in order to get you to the point where he/she is not disprovable in this sense.

So what type of agnostic are you?

Are you a strong agnostic, weak agnostic, ignostic, etc?

Personally, I'm an igtheist for certain formulations of god, and a strong atheist for others. I haven't found a definition of god for which I'm a weak atheist.

Once you water down the definition of God enough that I think it is no longer falsifiable you get to the point where I don't know what the person is trying to describe. At that point I am ignorant of the definition and therefore an igtheist (a type of ignostic and agnostic).

Brian, I suppose I can't


I suppose I can't really say, given that it's not an issue that I really care about.

What I can say is that I don't believe in a deity that interacts with the universe.


if I understand you correctly we have almost the same position for completely opposite reasons. I'm a "toothfairy agnostic" (I rather like that phrase) philosophically, but an "Atheist" in popular terminology. Well, though I may well be misinterpreting you here- do you think the case against religion is an historical one? Because there I'd agree with you. I also think that the philosophical case against religion is airtight (which is to say, arguments must be made FOR God and they have been soundly refuted) but I don't think that a socio-political case against religion is convincing at all (well maybe .1%) Exactly where do you think the case is strongest?